I awakened this morning with our four year old granddaughter, Kila on my mind.  Pictures of her on the raft trip presented themselves one by one; fishing with her Poppy, playing in the sand, riding in the raft, her enthusiasm fixed upon her sweet face.  This child knows she is special.

She has a mind of her own.  She is unbelievably smart, clearly thinking things through in ways that amaze me.  This can be challenging sometimes.  I find that some of my expectations of her behavior have been unrealistic and unfair, old fashioned, actually.  My ego wants to ME to be the person who gives the information; the knowledgeable one.  I want to share things with her, but she already knows so much!  Life has changed in huge ways since I was a child and then a mother myself.   (Just listen to kids expressing themselves verbally today.  They are worldly beyond their years and so articulate)!

I know through a lifetime studying psychology, that we are born with everything we need.  We are ego-centric, demanding that our needs be met.  We scream our wants for food, a diaper change, cuddling.  We are molded into behavior that fits our parents expectations, and in that molding process, we lose parts of ourselves.  More than anything else, we want love and acceptance.  When we know that we have disappointed our parents, we feel abandoned, and the pain is overwhelming.  So we quickly learn how to conform.  Sometimes children hear, “who do you think you are, anyway?”  How very damaging this message is to little ones who are in the process of becoming!

Kila was born to parents of the 2000’s.  Intelligent, loving, open, accepting people with countless experiences of self-actualization and they are still YOUNG!  They are very wise.  They explain “why” to their daughter, never saying, “because I said so.”  She has few boundaries, primarily those to keep her safe.  They always consider her feelings and as a result, Kila is high-spirited, enthusiastic, confident in her competence.

This morning, as I lay in bed, with the pictures of her on the recent raft trip at only four years old, it came to me that she is one of the few children I’ve ever known who hasn’t been molded to behave in ways that are expected by others.  I realize that I might have been like her………She will do great things with her life, I’m sure.  She will embrace new experiences, separate the wheat from the chaff, and move on.  SHE has many expectations of herself and the people around her.  She expects to be heard, to be loved, to be challenged, and respected.

I wish that I had known these things when I first became a mother.  I am proud of my children; they are very good and successful people.  But, as I reflect today, and think about who Kila is, I wonder how much of their spirit was affected by the way they were molded to meet my expectations………I am reminded of a speaker once, when I was in training to do social work with children and families, who said, “The best we can hope for our children is that they will be better parents than we were, and that their children will do better than they did.”

Perhaps today, rather than judging the present generation of parents and thinking them too indulgent and permissive, it is possible to consider that our expectations of what is appropriate is wrong!  I think I’m on to something here, and I look forward to watching this amazing little girl teach me how to live life in the juiciest way possible.  I cannot wait for the next chapter, when she comes to us for Thanksgiving this year.

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